Common misconceptions surrounding domestic abuse tend to be based on stereotype and myth. Perceptions can be perpetuated by media and society. These myths are unrelated to the reality and extent of domestic abuse, and furthermore harms victims. The myths below tend to blame the victim, rather than holding the perpetrator accountable.
This information aims to inform and clarify the reality of domestic violence, benefiting those seeking help or further knowledge. Below are common myths and notions that society believes, relating to domestic violence:
Myth: Alcohol and drugs make people more violent.
Reality: Any drug misuse will make existing abuse more prevalent, and will be a catalyst for an attack. However, many other people use alcohol and drugs and do not attack or abuse their partner. Drugs and alcohol are commonly used as an excuse to condone violent or controlling behaviour. The perpetrator is responsible for their actions. Whilst drugs and alcohol can be significant factors in an abuser;s life, they do not directly cause domestic violence.
Myth: If the abuse was that bad, the victim would leave.
Reality: People stay in abusive relationships for a myriad of reasons. It can be extremely difficult to leave an abusive partner even if the victim wants to. Abuse rarely starts at the beginning of a relationship, but when it is established, making it harder to leave. Victims can find themselves in repetitive cycles, believing when a perpetrator promises never to do it again. Victims can have nowhere else to turn, no family or friends, and may not have financial independence. Some perpetrators use children as coercion tools, and can threaten legal retaliation. Leaving an abusive relationship is dangerous to victims:
- Safety: victim may fear what the abuser will do to them and the children if they leave or attempt to leave
- Lack of confidence: victim may believe it is their fault, they deserve the abuse, may fear they would never find anyone else if they left
- Denial: victim convinces themselves “it’s not that bad”
- Shame: victim is embarrassed about others finding out
- Guilt: the abuser makes victim believe that they are to blame
- Financial dependence: victim may not be able to support themselves and children independently
- Loyalty: victim may be loyal to the abuser regardless of their actions
- Hope: victim believes things will improve
- Lack of support
- Pressure: family or friends pressurise victim to stay, ‘make i
- Religious/community beliefs: pressure not to break up the family
- Love: despite the abuse, victim still loves perpetrator
- Jekyll and Hyde: abuser switches between charm and rage
- Intimidation: the abuser threatens to take children or pets away
- Gender roles: victim might normalise behaviour
- Immigration: if the victim has insecure immigration status, they may fear being deported
Myth: Domestic abuse always involves physical violence.
Reality: This is not always the case; domestic abuse is defined as incidents or patterns of incidents that aim to control, coerce, threaten, and degrade a partner in a violent behaviour. This can include sexual abuse, coercive control, psychological and emotional abuse, financial abuse, harassment, online abuse, and stalking.
Myth: Domestic violence only happens to women.
Reality: Whilst statistics show a dominance of female victims reported, it does experience men and transgender people. Domestic violence can happen in any intimate relationship, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It is reported that women also strike male partners during conflict. However, the statistics reported are mostly male perpetrators.
Myth: Domestic abuse is a crime of passion, a momentary loss of control.
Reality: Domestic abuse is rarely about losing control, but taking and gaining control. Abusive partners rarely act spontaneously- acts of violence are a conscious decision. Perpetrators have a choice over whom they abuse; e.g. an abuser will select their partner to abuse, but not their boss in the workplace. Those who are stressed at work do not abuse or attack co-workers. Victims of domestic abuse are usually attacked in private, on areas of their bodies that do not show publicly.
Myth: All couples argue, it’s not domestic abuse, this is a normal relationship.
Reality: Abuse and disagreement is not the same thing. A difference in opinion and disagreement is healthy. When disagreement results in physical, sexual, emotional or psychological threats to control another person’s behaviour, this is classed as domestic violence. When abuse is involved there is no equality or discussion between two equals. A victim is often in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.
Myth: Women are more likely to be attacked by strangers than those who love them.
Reality: According to Rape Crisis UK, 10% of rapes are committed by men unknown to the victim. Women are likely to be attacked by a man they trust and know.
Myth: Victims provoke their partner’s violence.
Reality: Whatever issues or problems that exist in a relationship deserve to be aired without it directly resulting in violence. The use of violence is never justifiable or acceptable. Violence and intimidation are not acceptable ways to solve conflict in a relationship.
No-one should have to suffer domestic violence or abuse. We can advise you as to the best way of dealing with any such issues. Our solicitors have specialist qualifications and experience and will provide sympathetic and practical solutions to these complex and distressing issues.
We will offer urgent same day appointments where needed. If necessary we can issue emergency proceedings for orders protecting you and/or your children including non-molestation orders, to protect you, or occupation orders, requiring the other party to leave the home address. Legal aid is available subject to a means and merits test.
Parveen Ahmed specialises in domestic violence, children and care work. She is a Resolution Accredited specialist in forced Marriages & Domestic Violence. For more information, Call 0113 200 7427 or alternatively email email@example.com.